Daily Dose – Climbing

via Daily Prompt: Climbing

Since yesterday we’ve been steadily climbing up out of the Midwest into the land of terrestrial giants, cloaked in eternal winter. The emergence of hazy blue and white silhouettes on the horizon never loses its magic, no matter how many times I make this trip. Since childhood I’ve been enchanted by the impenetrable landscape, a Kansan toddler already filled with the desire to migrate to higher ground at the first opportunity. My sisters and I made grandiose plans to live in remote cabins where we would write thrilling novels and befriend the local wildlife.

One of my sisters only left Kansas for one month for a job that ended up falling  through. She lives in our detested father’s hometown. My oldest sister turned 30 last month. She left Kansas at 22 and moved to Iowa with her husband and they’re still there.

I don’t mean to bring everything back to them, but they still account for more than half my life’s influence and experience. They’re such a looming shadow, blaming me for our family’s strife. Yet I’m the one ascending. I’m the one following the sunlight to destinations that feed my soul something other than the bread of bitterness. All this beauty still brings to mind the stark contrast of my ugly past.


The mountains make me feel more whole, and even in the prolonged cold I can breathe more deeply out here. The trouble with being from Kansas is, you can only get halfway across the country when you run as far as you can go.

The Adventures of Fish

The trip has begun! As is typically the case with a carload of friends, hilarity ensues. Anal RVs abound, Great Fun lies ahead in Uranus, as well as a fudge shop (I’m not even kidding. This is the schtick Uranus, MO uses to promote tourism) and My Cows is serious business here in the heartland. 20170414_130541-1

We stopped to visit some fellow beached travelers who, incidentally, just got their ship seaworthy once again and they may join us on the way back. The stop off turned into a camp out, complete with a snapping turtle, cows and scary stories.


Life lesson, boys and girls, when people are inebriated (and/or trippng their faces off) near cows, everyone Will step in a patty at some point during the evening. That’s just life, I guess. But if your dog likes the smell of cows and is going to get back in the car in the morning, just tie her up for the night.IMG_20170413_144911

Fish takes one last look back at the house before setting out.


I’ve heard of fish as big as dogs, but dogs as small as Fish?? IMG_20170415_071843.jpg

“Did you get it?…I’m not in a patty, right?”


Nothin like hot dogs for breakfast to combat a hangover. This guy drinks like  a…Right, well, a fish.





Daily Dose- Timely

via Daily Prompt: Timely

It comes

at the perfect time,

a shift in life,

a mind ruffled by breeze

in need of physical motion.

Phases of my life can be defined by events and locations,

whereas sitting still

causes things to blur together,

like a piece of paper

too soaked with water color, pooling in one place

so that all the colors meet in the fold

as a brown puddle

rather than a beautiful rainbow

spread from one edge to the other.

When in doubt,


hopelessness or fear,

mountains can contextualize the smallness of your life,

and sky scraping trees,

massively gentle spirits,

allow dismissal of pain and discord.

In times of elation

and satisfaction, too,

mountains raise your soul into the sky,

muscles burning,

heart pounding,

alive among jagged rocks;

a soft and delicate life


and finite,

yet capable

of infinite peace.

I love heading West

where all the world’s suns


Daily Dose – Pleased

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

It’s the oddest thing, but I wasn’t  sure how to respond to today’s prompt until about 1:55pm when the doctor read the list of symptoms my husband and I worked on to prepare for my appointment, and she looked up and asked, “Do you think you’re bipolar?”

We discussed what that meant, technically and scientifically, and what that meant as far as my life. And I’m pleased to say, yes, yes I do think my wetware is malfunctioning.

I don’t think I’m impatient, bitter, spiteful, angry, clinging to my damage, ready to fight at the drop of a hat, lazy, unmotivated, reckless, contemptable and incapable of happiness. I think I have a problem that has been out of my control for years, buried under the rubble of an ugly childhood and a nasty relationship. It’s like being freed from prison after years served for a crime I had accepted guilt for. My parents never would get me help. Only mandated talk therapy, never psychiatry.

“We can’t teach a pill abuser that pills are ever the answer, ” my father said. What he meant was, if they” fixed” me they would have to find someone else to blame.

For years I believed medication was a bandaid, maybe even a crutch, but it wouldn’t help me deal with the real issues myself. I maintained this point of view through three nervous breakdowns and the collapse of the “successful life”  I had built. Only after I got with my now husband did I pursue therapy for myself. My husband, my therapist and I laid rope over some treacherous slopes and I followed the lines through emotional frostbite and social amputation over summit after summit. I moved away from my therapist and my husband and I continued the painful process of rebuilding or, really, building for the first time, on a foundation of aforementioned rubble. And then we hit a wall.

A wall I try and try to rationalize. A wall my husband keeps insisting I try harder to break through. And finally, after all this time, after all the filth was cleared away enough to even recognize this long standing obstacle, we have a name for the last thing standing in our way. It’s no longer a vague and shapeless monster that rears its head every two or three weeks and hurls me headlong at my husband’s throat, fangs bared. It’s a creature with a face and a name and, like any demon, that’s all I need to know to banish it.

I have the information I need to make things right, for my whole family. You see, I can choose the lifelong uphill battle for myself, but that wasn’t my husband’s choice, and it certainly wasn’ t the choice of my children. I owe it to them to try another route, and I’m more than pleased to finally know the name of the road I’m on. Left turn up ahead.

Eleven Years Past

It was yesterday eleven years ago I first almost died. And that was just the start. What was is it, seventeen days later? Yes, because it marked our one month anniversary as  a couple. Instead of spending it together he spent it getting his wrists sewn shut and I spent it with my mother, who sat with me in the car and told me she wished he had succeeded at taking his own life, before going inside with me to meet the social worker assigned to our family by Child Protection Services.

But let’s back up. I liked him the first time I saw him. I couldn’t tell you why. He wasn’t particularly handsome, in fact he was rather goofy and twice the size of the rest of our freshman peers. We were fourteen when we met and he had this electric charisma. I wanted him to think I was the most amazing person in the universe. And he did. We began to exchange emails and write notes during school (I miss writing notes). My parents can be loosely described as cultists and I was kept on a very tight leash. I wasn’t  allowed to talk to boys on the phone, much less have a boyfriend, so we rocked out the little Romeo and Juliette bullshit.

And then he got put into foster care, October tenth. We still emailed, and he would use his foster sister to get me on the phone when we could manage. It was torture, but in those early days we formed a profound connection – orphans of indifference, children desperate to feel loved and understood, yet constantly getting crushed under the heels of those expected to care for us. We validated one another, gave each other hope and a reason to live, through a time in life that’s hard enough even with the proper support. I was his Pumpkin. He was my Sunshine.

He was supposed to come home on Valentine’s Day. I brought a bag of candy hearts to school.  We had joked about his affinity for awful candy and how he thought it would be great to be showered in candy hearts as he walked into the room. I planned to facilitate that dream. I was giddy when I arrived at school, refusing to share my candy with my friends, eyes glued to the doors. I jumped every time they opened. But he was never the one who strolled into my waiting place. The first bell rang. Our group began to dissipate. My best friend stayed with me until the late bell rang. I dragged myself to class, crushed. I gave the candy hearts away.

The next month seemed to take forever, his case getting pushed, then rescheduled at the last minute, his mother needed to sign this paper or attend that class. She divorced his stepfather and they let my golden love come home.

It was one of those electric grey days, where the clouds hang heavy and everything seems extra green in the odd light. I walked out of school with my eyes on the ground, feeling hollow and hopeless. I nearly tripped over a bike tossed on the sidewalk and looked up in irritation to see who had left it there. And there he was, smiling at me softly though I could see the torrent of  joy pushing at his lips and sunburst eyes. I flew to him and he wrapped me up in an eternal embrace. No words were great enough for the feeling of our hopes actualizing.

He asked me to be his girlfriend “for real,” a couple days later and I gladly accepted. We stole every moment we could find, writing long notes and emails when we were apart. Nothing made us happy but one another. We started listening to each other’s favorite bands, finding deeper meaning in every lyric, quoting them and writing  them on one another’s arms. We shared books and poems and a thousand little inside jokes. He was all I cared about.

What I couldn’t understand at the time was that he didn’t care about me. He cared about the validation I offered him, sure, but more than anything he cared about his drugs, a passion he shared wuth me. I had turned fifteen that winter, while waiting for him to come home. He barely made it to fifteen.

April tenth, two thousand six, he said he wanted to get high with me. He talked about getting high all the time, how great it felt, how it was his only true release, how it made all the daily bullshit irrelevant and made life worth living. I wanted to be a part of that more than anything. Kids, there’s a lesson to take away from all this- when your drug addled teenage boyfriend is determing proper dosages of his mom’s high potentcy anti psychotics for ninety pound girls, based off how many he likes to take, don’t trust the math. Also, when you don’t feel anything thirty minutes after the first pill, don’t finish off the handful.

Those lessons left the school with me in an ambulance that day and sank in over the next week as I sat in the adolescent psychiatric unit of a nearby hospital. This was also how my parents found out I had a boyfriend.

While this wasn’t the end of me, it also was not the end of many things that should have died that day. And it was just the beginning of my pill addiction and my family’s relationship with child protective services. Only twice have I seen my father come unglued outside the safety of his house. The first time was in that hospital, during our family meeting with a psychiatrist in front of whom my father accused me of trying to end his marriage with this “little fake suicide routine.” I was back in his house three days later, under tighter lock and key than ever, not even allowed to close my door when I undressed. My friends felt bad for me and kept me medicated, especially after April twenty seventh.

My boyfriend didn’t show up to school again. I asked around. No one could tell me where he was. Until I asked the boy who had been closest to him since they were ten years old. The boy who, in an interesting twist of fate, would marry me eight years later. My now husband told teenage me that my teenage boyfriend had tried to kill himself the night before with a bottle of prescription pills and a steak knife. He locked himself in his room and mixed his blood with shaving cream, then wrote his lamentations with it on the walls. He ended up getting tased for his trouble. Five days later he turned fifteen.

We continued our fiasco as he moved twice, both of us running into child protection and police issues,  running away together, on and off drugs, in and out of trouble, into a new school district when my parents tried to get me away from him, ironically at the same time his mother moved them to the next town,  after my summer in military school, into our junior year of high school when I found out once and for all, none of it had meant to him what it meant to me. I found out at dinner with my friends before the homecoming dance, my reluctant virgin status had him taking advantage of my parents’ policy of locking me away every night. How would I ever find out? But I did and I had never been more shattered. All the time, energy and tumult we invested in our teenage saga and he was plowing sluts after I went to bed in my parents’ house, waiting to see him again tomorrow.

Like everyone who lived past their teenage years, in time I learned, everyone is an idiot in high school and nothing you do then is as important as your child brain imagines. I went to college a year early and managed to wreck my life just fine without help from my first love or his drugs. I think he just got out of prison recently. He always wanted to join Kurt Cobain in the 27 Club. That’s three hundred eighty six days away for him. I wonder if he’ll succeed?

Spring makes the animals go wild. And life goes on, children. Hold on tight and try not to make too many permanent decisions.

… Like a motherless child

The only thing worse

than the death of someone you love

is the complete and utter failure of that person

to fulfill their role in your life

while there’s breath in their lungs.

They’re walking about,

talking to others,

sharing glances and smiles with people

who are not you.

My mother won teacher of the year,

I was told,

and I wonder why it is the children of others

she came through for.

I guess it’s easier to speak up on behalf

of children whose demons are not of your making,

and whom you are paid to tolerate.

I wonder if she thought of me at all,

the child who desperately needs someone to talk to

and is left to call an 800 number and say,

through tears,

“This is the kind of day you call your mother, but mine is dead. ”

It’s easier than explaining that she just doen’t care,

the person who was supposed to love me forever,

like me for always,

as long as she’s living…

I guess dead inside counts too.

Daily Dose – Unravel


She remembers the poem

“Ode to My Socks, ” by Pablo Neruda

like you remember seeing an old friend

a few years ago;

The whimsy, like going back in time

to a better you,

right in the middle of those beloved memories.

” I would be

The perfect pair of handmade socks, ”

She thinks,

imagining the colors,

woven together like the simplest magic.

Simple is often the best sort of thing,

especially now,

when things are anything but.

The old friends will never visit,

she made sure of that,

by trying to encourage them to live better.

They weren’t that sort of friends which,

I suppose,

means they weren’t ever friends at all.

And now

The  twilight and goat skin,

Two immense blackbirds,

became entangled,

snagged on what she supposed was love, but,

being the drooping blossom

of a seed sprouted in rock,

she has the tendency to mistake stone

for fertile soil.

It is an easier mistake to make

than someone who was loved as a child

Can imagine.

And it has come to pass

that the one golden thread

is caught,

but time moves ever onward

with no regard for requests to pause

so that one might stop her soul from unraveling

as the result

of another mistake.

Perhaps she’ll have to settle

for being a metaphorical pile

of lovely yarn;

So many things it has been

or could yet become,

instead,  lying on the floor

taking comfort in its own shapeless vibrance.


after so many times,

you take what you can get.